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Recommendations of Vijay Raghavan Panel

  • 22 Jan 2024
  • 6 min read

For Prelims: Defence Research and Development Organisation, Parliamentary Standing Committee, CAG Reports, India’s investment in R&D, Drone development, Light Combat Aircraft Tejas.

For Mains: Major Issues Related to DRDO, Major Recommendations of Vijay Raghavan Committee.

Source: IE

Why in News?

The nine-member Vijay Raghavan panel, established by the government, has recently submitted a comprehensive report addressing concerns about the functioning of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

What are the Major Recommendations of the Vijay Raghavan Committee?

  • Background:
    • A recent Parliamentary Standing Committee (PSC) on Defence's Report expressed concerns about 23 out of 55 mission mode projects of DRDO facing significant delays.
    • CAG Report (December 2022) indicated that 67% (119 out of 178) of the projects examined failed to adhere to proposed timelines.
      • Multiple extensions were cited, primarily due to design alterations, user trial delays, and supply order issues.
  • Major Recommendations of Vijay Raghavan Committee:
    • Refocusing on Research and Development (R&D): Suggested that DRDO should return to its original goal of focusing on research and development for defense.
      • Advised against involving itself in productization, production cycles, and product management, tasks deemed more suitable for the private sector.
    • Narrowing Focus and Expertise: Emphasized that DRDO should identify specific areas of expertise rather than engaging in diverse technologies.
      • Questioned the necessity for DRDO's involvement in drone development, proposing a need to recognize expertise both domestically and internationally.
    • Role of Defence Technology Council (DTC): Advocated a pivotal role of the Defence Technology Council, chaired by the Prime Minister, in identifying suitable players for specific defense technologies.
      • DTC should be instrumental in steering the direction of defense technology development.
    • Creation of a Dedicated Department: Proposed the establishment of the Department of Defence Science, Technology, and Innovation under the Ministry of Defence.
      • Recommended that the proposed department should act as the secretariat for the Defence Technology Council.

Note

DRDO is the R&D wing of the Ministry of Defence, Govt of India, with a vision to empower India with cutting-edge defense technologies and a mission to achieve self-reliance in critical defense technologies. It was established in 1958 by amalgamating existing establishments from the Indian Army and Directorate of Technical Development & Production.

What are the Major Issues Related to DRDO?

  • Project Timelines and Cost Overruns: DRDO projects are notorious for exceeding estimated timelines and budgets by significant margins.
    • This leads to delays in crucial defense capabilities and raises concerns about efficiency and resource allocation.
    • Examples include the Light Combat Aircraft Tejas, which took over 30 years to develop.
  • Lack of Synergy with Armed Forces: DRDO's internal decision-making processes hinder innovation and adaptation.
    • Additionally, reported lack of smooth collaboration with the Armed Forces in terms of defining requirements and incorporating feedback, results in technologies not fully meeting operational needs.
  • Technology Transfer and Private Sector Integration: Efficient transfer of developed technologies from DRDO to private industries for mass production still remains a challenge.
    • This hinders faster deployment and commercialization of indigenous defence technology, leading to dependence on foreign imports.
  • Transparency and Public Perception: Limited public awareness and transparency regarding DRDO's activities and achievements lead to negative perception and criticism.

Way Forward

  • Stronger Project Management: DRDO should implement stricter project management methodologies, including clear milestones, resource allocation, and accountability measures.
  • Enhanced Collaboration with Armed Forces: Establish dedicated channels for communication and feedback exchange, involving Armed Forces personnel in development stages.
  • Streamlined Technology Transfer: Develop clear protocols and incentives for technology transfer to private companies, fostering closer public-private-partnerships.
  • Foster a culture of Experimentation and Open Innovation: DRDO should collaborate with universities, startups, and international partners to leverage diverse expertise and access cutting-edge technologies.
  • Increase Public Awareness: DRDO must actively engage with the media, organize public outreach events, and share success stories to raise awareness about DRDO's contributions to national security.

UPSC Civil Services Examination, Previous Years Questions (PYQs)

Q. What is “Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD)”, sometimes seen in the news? (2018)

(a) An Israeli radar system
(b) India’s indigenous anti-missile programme
(c) An American anti-missile system
(d) A defence collaboration between Japan and South Korea

Ans: c

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